Lucas Cranach the Elder 1472 – 1553

The Law and the Gospel

oil on panel (72 × 88 cm) — 1529 Museum Národní galerie, Sternberg Palace, Prague

Lucas Cranach the Elder biography

Tags: Allegory

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In the top left Moses receives the tables of the Law. Below him Adam and Eve undergo the Fall.

In the center under the tree sits a naked young man - perhaps Adam, perhaps an ordinary sinner. To the right of him is John the Baptist, pointing to the salvation through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. The bearded man is probably the prophet Elijah, who Christians often link to the coming of the Messiah.

Left and right of the panel not only show the Old and the New Testament. There also is a division between death and resurrection, shown in Jesus rising from the grave.

Lucas Cranach made a somewhat similar painting in the same year he made this panel, 1529. The other version is now in a museum in the German city of Gotha. Three years on Hans Holbein would make a painting with striking similarities to Cranach's work.

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